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NBA Playoffs: Celtics Take 3-1 Lead Against Cavaliers

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum Monday, May 13, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

The Boston Celtics defeated a short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers team 109-102 on Monday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their East semifinal series. The Celtics will now have the opportunity to close out the series at home on Wednesday in Game 5.

Jason Tatum led Boston in scoring with 33 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 5 assists while Jaylen Brown added 27. Jrue Holiday had another strong showing, scoring 16 points which included 4 three pointers.

For Cleveland, Darius Garland scored 30 points but took 27 shots to do so while Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert had 19 apiece. 

The Cavs were without Donovan Mitchell who injured his calf in the waning moments of Cleveland’s Game 3 loss on Saturday. He was added to the team’s injury report as questionable prior to the game but was unable to heal in time for Game 4 despite round-the-clock treatment. The Cavs are hopeful that Mitchell will be ready to go by Wednesday.

Also sitting out was Center Jarret Allen who hasn’t played yet in the series after sustaining an injury to his ribs in Cleveland’s prior series with the Orlando Magic. This was the seventh straight game that he sat out.

Without the team’s top scorer and rebounder taking a game from the number one seeded Celtics was always going to be a daunting task, even with the home crowd behind them. They will now need to go into the lion’s den and steal one in Boston to avoid elimination.

Game Summary

The game started off evenly with both teams trading buckets but Boston was able to put on a run at the end of the first quarter which opened a 7 point gap. 

Holiday scored seven straight points in the second quarter to put the Celtics up by 13 and it looked like the home team was going to get blown out on their own floor. The Cavs were able to storm back though behind Max Strus, who made consecutive 3-pointers in a 13-3 run that helped the Cavs to close the half at 62-57.

The third quarter went in favor of Boston as they regained a double digit lead, mainly by strangling Cleveland on the defensive end. 

Entering the fourth quarter Boston went up 15 courtesy of a jumper by Brown. Cleveland however weren’t finished, responding with a 10-2 run. With only a minute to go in the game the Cavs were only down 102-97 but could never get over the hump as Boston cleaned up the game at the free-throw line.

Thunder Beat Mavs To Even Out Series 2-2

In other news, the OKC Thunder came out victorious in Game 4 at Dallas, 100-96, to even out the series 2-2. With the win, the Thunder have now reclaimed home-court advantage and will host the Mavs in a pivotal Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander once again led the way for his team, top scoring with 34 points on 14-27 shooting from the field. He was supported by Chet Holmgren and Lu Dort who had 18 and 17 points respectively.

MVP candidate Luka Doncic had another subpar postseason showing, with 18 points on 6-20 shooting. He did manage to notch another triple-double with 12 rebounds and 10 assists but had 7 costly turnovers. Kyrie Irving wasn’t at his best either, scoring just 9 points to go with 9 assists.

The one silver lining for the Mavs was P.J. Washington, who once again had a solid game with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

OKC trailed by 11 going into the break but never let the game get out of hand. They outscored the Mavericks 57-42 in the second half, mainly off the back of Gilgeous-Alexander who took control in the third.

Luka Doncic had a chance to tie the game at 96 but missed a critical free throw with 10 seconds left which left his team down a point. From there, Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren were able to close out the game from the charity stripe.